Techstars Alexa Startups Address Settings Where Voice Is ‘Most Natural’

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think about how Uber was enabled with a mobile-first approach, maybe that [voice] company is being founded right now.

The art is to be really thoughtful on where does it make the most sense for voice, where is voice the most natural and truly the best technology.

X: How have you seen the Alexa-related technologies evolve in the two classes of the program?

AG: One really interesting way it’s different—we’re in the middle of the selection process for this year’s class—-is, last year a lot of companies already had a product. They were doing something but then realizing, maybe, instead of this being a mobile app first, maybe we should have voice as a key component and that’s how we’ll find product market fit. Now, they’re starting with voice at the center of what they’re doing.

A lot of companies are thinking about kids and education, how can we help age in place. [Ginzburg refers to the Alexa Echo Silver skit on “Saturday Night Live.”] That’s awesome, and that’s reality. There are companies building [voice technologies related to aging issues].

X: With the recent controversy involving Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Cambridge Analytica, what are your thoughts about privacy issues related to having these smart devices in our homes?

AG: One thing that has been really impressive to me, as I’ve worked with the Amazon folks, is how seriously they take privacy and how thoughtful they are about it. It is just a core pillar in everything in terms of what they think about voice. People will say, ‘Hey, how come we don’t get this data that we can get on this other competitive voice platform?’” Amazon is doing it right. This is a whole new thing for human beings, and [Amazon is] taking it slow in terms of how they’re adding things to the platform so there isn’t a misstep. We all know what happened in social media. We don’t want to find ourselves in the situation where we’ve misunderstood a technology that we’ve all come to rely on. When you understand how the tech works, it’s no different than having a phone in your house at the end of the day.

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